Skip to main content

Bliss Life

be bold. be brave. be remembered.

UP Syndrome: Reno Fashion Show's First Model with Down Syndrome

Sep 05, 2019 06:57PM ● By Craig Nielson
The Reno Fashion Show 2019 featured a new designer, Maria Segura and a new model, Carly Beeg, with a special quality never before seen on the RFS runway. Carly’s special quality….she has Down Syndrome.

Maria shared with me the very painful, personal story that inspired her work as an artist and led to her relationship with Carly: 

Maria was on vacation, newly pregnant with her third child, when she got a call from the doctor advising her the results of her bloodwork revealed something abnormal and that she should come to the office for further explanation. Maria spent the remainder of her vacation in a state of great concern and worry about the well-being of her unborn child. What could be wrong?

Immediately upon her return, Maria went to see the doctor who told her she should have an amniocentesis done to determine if there was something wrong with her baby. This exacerbated her concern and she was very scared. When she got the results, she was presented the news in this way: 

“I’m sorry, but there’s a high probability that your baby has Down Syndrome.”

Maria was then given all the options of terminating her pregnancy, giving her child up for adoption, or keeping her baby. She was scared. She didn’t know what to do. She was afraid she wouldn’t love a child with Down Syndrome. She also dreaded the thought of terminating the life of her child. 

Maria was deeply conflicted. She did her research. Terminating the pregnancy would involve taking medication that would end the life of her child. Her child would die inside her and then be surgically removed from her…in pieces. This was something she did not want to live with.

For days she cried in misery trying to make the decision to terminate or not, give her child up for adoption, or keep him.  She felt very much alone. Then, from deep inside, her intuition told her to “forget what society says, forget what the doctors say and forget what everyone else says…this decision is mine.” Then the voice inside her said...”keep him.”

As soon as she came to that conclusion, she felt as if a tremendous weight had been lifted; she felt relieved. All of the worry and fear that had plagued her for days vanished in an instant.
Her newborn son Benjamin, now 9 months old (at time of print), has filled her heart with more love and joy than she could've ever imagined. Now she can't imagine life without him. For, she knows she made the right decision. Benjamin was, in fact, born with Trisomy 21, more commonly known as Down Syndrome. People with Down Syndrome have an extra chromosome which Maria now affectionately calls the extra "special" chromosome. 

At the core of Maria’s work, she wants to convey that everyone is beautiful and though people with Down Syndrome may have differences, they are just like everyone else. They are people too. Maria’s new mission is to consult with other mothers just after they find out their child may have Down Syndrome, to help them see that their child will be beautiful in every way. This is the subject of a documentary film she is currently creating called, “A Life Worth Living.” Maria’s Reno Fashion Show model, Carly Beeg, is also be featured in the film.

Meet Carly Beeg: Reno Fashion Show's First Model with Down Syndrome

Maria met her model, Carly Beeg, and her mom, Gina, through the Down Syndrome Network. Carly is quite similar to any other young women her age. She is on the high school dance team and she plans to attend college at the University of Nevada, Reno. When I met with Carly, I asked if she was nervous about modeling on the runway. She responded with a smile and an unequivocal "No!" She was very excited. When Carly made her way down the runway, she was all smiles. Unlike the other models, she excitedly waved to the audience, much to their delight. When she got to the end of the runway, she struck a pose like a consummate professional and the audience cheered with pride, mirroring Carly’s enthusiasm, as she made her way back down the runway.

As I watched Carly strut her stuff on the runway, I had this thought: They should call it “UP Syndrome.” How can you not feel “up” in Carly’s presence? She exudes joy, she has a delightful smile, she is confident and fearless. Those are qualities we could all use. Perhaps it’s her “extra special chromosome” that brings out Carly’s most radiant qualities.

For more on Maria Segura’s work as an artist visit For more on her upcoming documentary film visit